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Hamas Deputy Leader Killed in 'Israeli' Drone Strike: Who Was Saleh al-Arouri ?

He was elected the deputy chairman of Hamas's political bureau in October 2017.

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Video Producer: Divya Uppal 
Video Editor: Abhishek Sharma 

Saleh al-Arouri, the deputy leader of Hamas and one of the founders of the Hamas military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, was killed in a purported Israeli drone strike on Tuesday, 2 January, in the Dahiyeh neighbourhood Lebanon's Beirut.

The news was confirmed by local media, which stated that Israel had killed Arouri in Beirut. Lebanese media said a total of six people were killed in the strike.

Israel has not yet claimed responsibility for the killing and Mark Regev, an adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told MSNBC, "Whoever did it, it must be clear that this was not an attack on the Lebanese state.

The attack is a part of the Israel-Hamas conflict, which surged on 7 October 2023, when Hamas attacked Israelis in a massive air strike, killing more than 1000 people and taking around 240 hostages in Gaza. Following this, Israel launched a counterattack aimed at "destroying Hamas."

Since then, more than 22,000 Palestinians - mostly women and children - have been killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza, according to Gaza's Hamas-run health ministry.

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Who is Saleh al-Arouri?

Saleh al-Arouri was born in August 1966 in the west bank’s Ramallah. Arouri played an important role in Hamas, the terrorist group and was one of the founders of the Hamas military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades.

In 1985, he joined Palestine’s Hebron University to study Sharia Law. He formed connections with Hamas youth wing on campus and led the Islamic Student Movement.

The 57-year-old served 15 years in Israeli jail, and in 2010, the Israel High Court ordered his expulsion. For three years, he lived in Syria, after which he moved to Turkey until Israel pressured the Turkish government and forced him to leave the country in 2015. Since then, he had been living in Lebanon, working from Hamas' office in Beirut.

Arouri was one of the main negotiators responsible behind the prisoner swap deal that released more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails in return for the freeing of Gilad Shalit, a former MIA soldier of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), in 2011.

Israeli intelligence officials believe that al-Arouri was one of the masterminds behind the June 2014 kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens — Gil-ad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Fraenkel — and many other attacks.

He was elected the deputy chairman of Hamas's political bureau in October 2017.

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